Volunteering in Curitiba, Brazil by Susana Mpinge

Growing up I have meet so many people from different countries in Namibia and with that came the curiosity of wanting to experience a different environment and culture. So an opportunity arose and I grabbed it. I came across AIESEC Namibia exchange programme and decided to go do a volunteering internship in Curitiba, Brazil, for 2 months.

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I was working in the Gira Mundo project in a NGO responsible for young girls who have suffered abuse, crime or cannot stay with their families due to the place not being safe. I with other interns from other countries taught the girls through workshops, lectures, games and other activities on four different subjects: social responsibility, entrepreneurship, cultural differences and sustainability.

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Before I got to Brazil, I was expecting it to be as they advertise in the movies: everyone beautiful with perfect bodies. Don’t get me wrong they are beautiful but not perfect but I must say their culture is amazing, loving and unified.

During my stay, I traveled to the following places: Sao Paulo and Rio de Janerio. The language (Portuguese) was the main challenge but I was crazy enough to go without knowing even basic Portuguese. The trips were amazing and I got to meet different types of Brazilians from different states of Brazil.

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I would say that the experience has made me a better individual. The way I reason is different, the way I see life and opportunities are different. My personality has defiantly improved, so is my understanding of other peoples cultures. I have built a network of friends around the world. I can go somewhere now and know I am safe as I have friends that I know personally.
I would recommend anyone interested in the exchange programme to go abroad, it’s a different world out there. It was the best challenge andI now know how it feels like to overcome my fears.

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People will always have something negative to say about any place but it is until you get there and experience it yourself that you realize it came be  a home away from home. I now have a family in Brazil that I can go back any time. My host family have treated me far better than some my own family. I love them so much.

My volunteering experience in Maputo by Tuli Pandeni

In Nov/Dec 2013, I decided to step out of my comfort zone (Namibia My Motherland), to break out of this hard shell that has confined me to the four corners of my room and be amongst the first generation of AIESEC Namibia members to go on an exchange, but little did I know what awaits me on the other side of the borders. A two day bus trip to Mozambique was the longest trip I have ever taken, but a long comfortable ride it was, thanks to Intercape.
So I’m embarking on a journey that is supposedly to be the most incredible experience of my life. I’m a victim of Matthias Kunz & Djamila’s (AIESEC Namibia founding president and first lady) exceptional sales skills: “Mozambique is so beautiful, you would love it there, sounding all convincing to most.

In my head, been my typical wambo negative self I was like “BLUH, WATEVA” What could be so beautiful about this African country, falls, beaches, forests & bushes? I’ve seen them all, Namibia is the one, we got it all, been there seen it all, but I went anyhow. All I wanted was a breather, a change in scenery, a holiday where I didn’t have to travel to the north ( with its 40 ◦C weather ) and I wanted to get my experience , do something productive and grow.

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On my arrival in Maputo, I was so shocked. What I virtualized about Mozambique was not what I saw in reality: not as clean as Namibia.
Looking on the brighter side, WOW! What tall buildings this town had, I swear if you were on top of one, you where an inch closer to touching the clouds and heaven itself (now that’s my imagination running wild), but this were the tallest buildings I have ever seen, tallest but very old. We arrived at a 14 flight apartment building, which was going to be my new home for the next 6 weeks, I and 20 other students in a five bedroom apartment and did I mention we lived on the 13th floor, the second last floor in a building where it was all stairs, as the elevators broke down centuries ago by the look of things, talk about a home gym….

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My attachment was at an orphanage called Reencontro Orphanage, where we were mainly interns from South Africa, Botswana and I from Namibia. Our job description was mainly to fundraise for the orphanage home, we were a group of ±interns who teamed up on a project to conduct workshops (on personnel hygiene, dreaming big, self –esteem etc.) and having one big fair for children of 9-15 years of age. A tough 6 weeks it was, a lot of trials & tribulation and language barriers along the way, but a successful internship and project we had. This is where every intern contributed the little they could; be it a smile or a hug to brighten up someone’s day, to the workshop presentation or the organization of the fair. I for one was privileged to have been part of the team, to have helped and added value to someone’s life especially the children of Reencontro Orphanage.

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On the fun side, for leisure there was so much to do. Partying, shopping , sightseeing, Mozambique is a beautiful country I should conclude from the little is saw , even though because of finances I was not able to visit all the touristic attractions , I’m definitely saving up to go back and be the explore some more. Mozambique, Maputo is amongst, if not the safest country/city in the world.

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“Life is a long journey, just make sure you take the right road”- Unknown

Well I have surely taken the right road that taught me so much , an experience I would never forget , an experience that opened my eyes to new opportunities & Goals , that has connected me to other strong- minded, ambitious student, visionaries , some of whom ,I’ll cherish as friends despite the geographical distances. I meet different personalities & cultures that have taken and added different values and aspects to my life that changed me in more ways than one; mentally and emotionally.

My life will never be the same again, that “Wambo” negative girl is no more, a better me was born.

My Maputo Volunteering Experience by Tutala Uushona

Naturally, I love to work. Every holiday I am working. So this time I was browsing the internet and I stumbled upon the global internships. I have heard of AIESEC and its professionalism. Browsing through the website, I saw the Kutenga project and immediately I knew that it was something I wanted to spend my holiday doing.

I had very high expectations of AIESEC Mozambique, not only because of the level of competence that was portrayed by AIESEC Namibia, but because of the way they handled the whole interview process. Little did I know I was in for a big mess of a surprise.  I expected for everything to go as it was presented to me, a welcoming, and an internship with Kutenga. I expected to acquire new skills in the profession, and to improve where I slacked.

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Things started going wrong upon arrival. Firstly, I was left to fend for myself for an hour, my calls were being answered and dropped and then I finally got an address, which by the way, they forgot to mention was the wrong address. I was lucky to have made a friend on the bus who was helping me with everything, going to the wrong address and returning to the station until eventually an AIESEC UEM member showed up. So I didn’t get the big welcome, which was disappointing, and already I felt not welcome. And the next six weeks were not easy either.

I was placed with a family in an apartment were we were sharing one small room with four other trainees. I was greeted with, who is this? You didn’t tell us you were bringing another girl, and complaints about AIESEC UEM. The family was not so pleased either.  All I could think of was, this will be worth it when I start working. The next morning after my arrival I was ready to go to work, but after a while, I was still in the same apartment. The answer I always got was, there is no work today. I was then placed at Impact Weeks, which was an amazing project as the children were so eager to learn and they were such a delight. I also helped with the Christmas party at VGV which was a tremendous success.

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Although the period of no work were fun, traveling with other trainees, I didn’t go to play tourist in Mozambique. The main challenge for me was the level of mediocrity within the organization in Maputo. They had no respect for time whatsoever, nothing was ever done the way it was said to be done and the biggest challenge of them all COMMUNICATION!

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I was quite impressed with the one thing that was done right for me, which was my birthday. It was the one day that things were done accordingly as I had mentioned in my wish list. My birthday for me, is as important as the consumption of water is to humans. The one thing that shocked me during my birthday party was the way the people are so touchy; it was so extreme that one of my roommates cried harassment.

Through all this, I can truly say that I have learned perseverance and patience. I was always the one giving them guidelines on how to communicate, and eventually I accepted that I would just have to keep repeating the lesson. I had met amazing people from around the world, some of them have become my best friends, like two in particular Kiito (Namibia) and Nadine (Germany) of whom we almost did everything together. I would say that the people of Mozambique outside of AIESEC were very nice and interesting. Mozambique is a very beautiful country that I would travel to again. My experience has taught me to appreciate what I would naturally disregard, like punctuality at work.

I would definitely recommend people to go on such exchanges because they test you, and teach you that you are stronger than the limits set. It is a chance to not only discover yourself, make friends but to also learn and be a global citizen that is not oblivious to things that happen outside your perceived world. And if you do choose to go to Maputo, my advice to you is, be strong and try to exercise patience.

Volunteering in São Luís – Brazil by Israel Gawiseb

Brazil, a country I have admired as a kid. Seeing the opportunity in AIESEC, I knew this was it. I had to go there. I decided this was the opportunity to see the country I’ve always wanted to see. I told myself that I wouldn’t have any expectations going there, that I have an open mind and embrace all the differences of a new continent. I went to Northern Brazil, in the state of Maranhão to a city called São Luís. I arrived there on the 29th of November 2013 and stayed there until the 17th of January the next year, a duration of seven weeks in total.

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Along with a partner from Mexico, we worked in a project called Mozaiko. The voluntary work involved working as “assistant” managers to the owner of an NGO that taught capoeira (a kind of martial arts dance developed by African slaves) to kids and adolescents.

My stay in São Luís was truly the best experience of my life, of which the most treasured is the host family I lived with. I tried not to be a typical tourist, only going to museums and restaurants and did the little things the inhabitants would do. Lunch in the streets, mini shows in town centres, beach football, and the likes. This experience developed me in more ways than one. The way I look at the world, and cultures different from mine…

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As soon as the airplane door was opened in São Paulo, my first shock was the humidity. I never understood when people said Namibia was a dry country until then. Coming from a somewhat conservative town (Khorixas), seeing Brazilians on Tv in little clothing, people would tend to call them naked. Having gone and lived there made me realise one important reason why, the weather. It was hot and too humid. My shirt would be wet before I reach the yard gate from sweat and humidity. This is an example of how we easily judge people when we don’t understand where they are coming from.

My biggest challenge was the language! I found it so hard to find someone that spoke English and that also made me appreciate the importance of communication, especially body language. Everyone would caution me not to make it too obvious I was a foreigner, but everyone that realised I was from Africa was so warm to me. Looking back on it, I don’t have an ounce of regret, considering how much that experience has changed me and made me grow. One of the greatest things about this experience is the people and global network that I got. Besides my (host) family, I have friends in Mexico, Peru, Colombia, US, Germany, Argentina, China, and many more from over 10 countries, and above all, this would be my greatest reason for recommending exchange.

My Beijing experience by Tonata Shaningwa

I’m a person who lives for adventure and travel. I love going to places I have never been to, meeting new people and living new experiences. I decided to take part in the AIESEC GCDP exchange program, because I wanted to push myself a little further outside of my comfort zone and embrace new opportunities.

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I was fortunate enough to do a voluntary internship in Beijing, China. Together with AIESEC interns from Vietnam, Hong Kong and South Africa, I worked at the China Green Channel (Pty) Ltd. with a social enterprise that manufactures and sells stationery made from recycled paper. I worked closely with the CEO of the company, marketing and working on strategies to boost the sales of the company, as well as participating in marketing campaigns and awareness functions on recycling and ‘green products’.

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Looking back at the experience, I can say that I am now more conscious of environmentally friendly products and their relevance. One of the significant things I have learned from my experience is the ability to focus. Because Beijing is such a huge place with so much going on all the time, it’s very easy to get distracted and side-tracked, however, I have learned to keep focus on my goals and objectives and be able to prioritise, without forgetting to have fun and live through the moments. Chinese people are always on the move, always in a hurry to go somewhere and get something done. China is a huge country with a lot of people but more importantly, the Chinese people are generally stereotyped to work like ‘machines’. Therefore, I anticipated non-stop WORK. This experience has definitely added a boost to my work ethic.

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I’ve met loads of new friends from all over the world and we spend most of our spare time in restaurants experiencing the awesome Chinese foods and exploring / visiting touristic places like The Great Wall of China, The Forbidden City, and so on.

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I have learned that in life, there is no reason to be stagnant; if you have energy, get up and be on the move…. always, be proactive and adventurous because great opportunities await those who are willing to get away from their comfort zones. I can genuinely say that I had the time of my life and I would not only love to do it again, but I would also love to recommend this type of internship and experience

My Indian experience by Sem Uutoni

Love, Compassion and Giving are a few of the aspects that define my personal truth. My name is Sem Uutoni, at 19 I am very honored to be part of AIESEC Namibia’s first bunch Exchange Participants. At university I am in my final year perusing a degree in Development Studies and aspire to work within the United Nations Framework. I travelled to India in 2013 for an AIESEC internship in Hyderabad, India. I worked for Project Conserve which is a social initiative by AIESEC India that aims to raise environmental awareness and thus making a positive impact in the society. I also worked with a NGO that is AIESEC Hyderabad’s learning partner for this project.

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I did not know what to expect, I had so many questions and some I believe had no answers. Not knowing has been something that makes me nervous, but also makes me so excited. As soon as I landed I knew-it was happening. This has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. One of the wonderful opportunities I had was to work with different Indian schools and NGO’s. Having visited more than 3 NGO’s I have seen how the work they do can better the lives of those in need. This experience made me realize that one person cannot change the world however the little that we all do contributes to the greater change. That is I what inspired me to continue working regardless of the magnitude of the work, because eventually it does contribute to the greater change. I know I might never meet this kids again, however they shall continue to hold a special place in my heart, and I am most proud of the fact that I played a role in the growth and development of kids from a different society.

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One of the aspects that made my experience most exciting was the different people I met on my exchange. I made friends from different countries like Malaysia, Kenya, Brazil, Taiwan and Colombia amongst others. I had various fun and rewarding moments with all this interns. We laughed clubbed, traveled and gate-crashed parties together. I believe the most important thing is that we all acknowledged that we were from different societies and thus we were open to meeting, celebrating and living our different cultures together. Apart from that I also met wonderful Indian friends that made my experience breathtaking.

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I am most grateful to my father God for providing this opportunity unto me. My passions have always been driven by the love for others, respect and serving purposes greater than my own and I believe my internship has been a great platform to practice those. It is under that juncture that I would definitely go for more volunteering opportunities. I think I have reached a point in life where I want to dedicate my time to helping others. Many have questioned this however I tell them that my believe of life is not about having expensive goods however its more about getting down on my hands and knees and really giving back to the world because I am blessed to have a great life myself.

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Volunteering in Uganda by Christine Haansende

Going for an AIESEC exchange program was an opportunity I was willing to take. I decided to go on exchange because I thought to myself “such opportunities don’t always come easily”. And it turned out to be a great opportunity. From this experience I wanted to meet different types of people. I also wanted to develop and improve some of my skills like social-networking and communication skills.
I was on exchange in Kampala, Uganda for 2 months. Sometimes I wish I stayed there longer. It’s a friendly country and busy indeed. I worked with an NGO called Agape World Ministries. The NGO takes care of street kids and children that cannot afford to go to school. Facilitating them and teaching them various subjects like English language and mathematics.

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I really enjoyed my stay in Uganda. I got to meet so many people from different countries like Brazil, Botswana, Kenya, Germany, Taiwan and the list goes on. I got to eat interesting foods like Rolex, Kikomando and Jack fruit. When someone told me about rolex I actually thought it was a brand of a watch. I was so confused I laughed hard when I was told it’s food. I had fun with friends and visited different places like the Gadaffi Mosque and the source of the nile. Did you know Mahatma Ghandi’s ashes were thrown in the river nile?
Many people there thought I was Ugandan so they would speak to me in their language and sometimes they thought I was just pretending not to be Ugandan because I responded in English.
One shocking but interesting thing I found was the way they prepared some of their food. But one thing that impressed me was the construction I saw late at night on the roads. I have never seen that anywhere else.

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I learned a lot from my experience. I had a chance to build a global social network and improve on some of my skills. After my exchange experience I was a changed person. I became a better me. Going on an exchange program will help you open your mind to all kinds of things out there. You will be able to understand why people do what they do because you will connect with them personally. And you will be able to decide to have a positive impact on them.

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Life Is a Journey, Plan for it by Dorian Angula

Everyone has goals and ambitions in life; my ambition was always one day to go abroad irrespective to which country, it was on the 6 December 2014 around 21:14 p.m. when I got a call from a guy called Sylver saying he works for a company called AIESC Namibia asking me if I am willing to go abroad to volunteer as Social Security Commission were willing to sponsor me. The first thing I told him was a big YES.

 On the 24 December 2014 I arrived in Gaborone (The capital city of Botswana) at 19: 37 p.m. I was picked up by the project coordinator Mr. Otlametse were he took me to a village called Mochudi about 50 kilometers from the capital city (Gaborone) were the project is based. I was introduced to my host family (Thekiso family) were I met 3 sisters (Ratanang, Banyana and Thabo) unfortunately the parents were not around I was told that they were at the lands but never the less I spoke with them on the phone and I met them on the 26 December 2014 and they welcomed me with open hands. They made me feel especially the mother who kept on inspiring me since the day I arrived until the end of my internship.

I worked on a project called Kick start Academy, on this project I had to give football training to young boys under the age of 16 at a soccer academy called Kgatleng Superstars Academy, I had to teach them football skills for them to become professional footballers in the future. Unfortunately on this project (Kick start Academy) I was the only intern but that didn’t disappoint me though, in fact it motivated me a lot to know myself better, what role I can play in society  and to give my best on the project. I didn’t start on the project in the first week as I expected, I found the schools already closed and the kids I had to work with were on holiday, so I had to wait until the 7 January 2015 for schools to re-open.

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CULTURE SHOCK

  • On 25 December 2014(Christmas day) Mr Otlametse took me to their lands were they hosted a Christmas party with he’s family and to my surprise I had to eat porridge with salad (beetroot, butternuts, carrots) and macaroni which I had never eaten or saw people eating that in my life and there was cooked meat but there was no soup and this surprised me a lot, since in my culture if one has to eat porridge then there must be soup and we don’t eat porridge with salad.

  • I had to taste a popular alcohol drink called Chibuku (shake shake) and what surprised me is that its alcohol volume is 3.5 % +, if a person drinks a chibuku that was produced 10 days ago that person is likely to get drunk quickly than a person who drinks a chibuku that was produced 4 days ago and this I was told by Mr. Otlametse.

  • What surprised me is that my host family cooked me Setswana chicken (koko) and they prepared it with water and salt only but in my culture we cook it with all ingredients such as spice, chilly, onions, tomatoes, salt etc… and the two kids ( Thabang and Fiky) I was staying with at the host family they were eating the thighs of the chicken while in my culture the thighs are eaten by the head of the house (man)

  • I attended a funeral at one of the neighbor’s house and what surprised me is that they conduct the funeral service early in the morning around 7:00.am and by 10:00am the funeral service was over, while in my culture we conduct the funeral service from 10:00 a.m. When we got back to the house of the deceased I was expecting to eat and drink cool drink, if not alcohol but to my surprise, all the mourners were given pounded meat (seswaa) and that was it, and these shocked me a lot in fact it made me angry since I was kind of thirsty and hungry. In my culture people eat and even drink alcohol at funerals.

  • It was my first time eating seswaa in my life, I have never heard or thought anywhere in Namibia people eat seswaa (pounded meat).

  • I ate a lot of traditional food at my host family’s house that they prepared for me such as dumpling’s, green vegetables (morogo) ,soft porridge(bogobe), Setswana chicken, samp (setampa) just to mention a few.

  • I had an opportunity to go to the lands that the host family own and milk the goats and cows. Something I never did in my life before.

  • What I have seen in this village( Mochudi) is that almost all the people living in Mochudi are not homeless in fact I like the way they name the locations in Mochudi,I was staying in a location called Makakatlela  meaning many stones and there were many stones around.

  • Since I am a football fan I didn’t expect my host family to have a DSTV or something but I expected if there are bars nearby I expected one to have at least a DSTV but to my surprise in makakatlela route 3 (where I was staying) all of them didn’t have a DSTV so I had to go watch football a bit far away from home.

  • The most culture shock I saw here in Botswana is that, people here most of the time they speak Setswana only, whenever I was approach by a person they always speak Setswana unlike in Namibia were people speak English first and in fact what I have realized among people in Botswana not all of them but most of them when a person speaks another language other than Setswana language people will be laughing at that person, for example my host family were always laughing at me when I used to speak my language with my family on the phone but I didn’t get offended though.

  • I was shocked to see young boys at the academy that I was training struggling to speak English and the small boy ( Thabang) I was staying with at the host family he’s in standard 2 but he could speak better English than them.

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Experience gained from the project

  • Leadership skills-this exchange gave me an opportunity to interact with different people from different backgrounds.

  • It gave me the opportunity to know myself better, what role I can play in society as an educated youth.

  • This project has improved my understanding of diverse cultures and has resulted into better abilities to work with people from different cultures which made me a better team player.

With no doubt, I recommend anyone out there to go do an internship abroad, like the one I did. It is a life changing opportunity and it makes you a better person.

My Mozambican Experience by Rauna Shikomba

As a member of AIESEC Poly telling people to go on internships and get out of their comfort zones, I told my mother to start saving up too just so that I get an experience of my own. I decided to go to Mozambique because I wanted something challenging as people there hardly speak English and that I met AIESEC UEM’s project requirements. That’s how I applied for administration assistant at Kutenga an NGO in Maputo.

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I loved the fact that AIESEC Mozambique was so welcoming, friendly and made me feel at home. What surprised me most is that their parties start very late that’s mostly at 23:00 or even if it’s not a party you never go out early. There was then a concept of “we are always late “that we made most of them drop the mentality as it came to a point that you would be late for work.

 I did not start as soon as I arrived as the first week, some issues were being resolved. When I started, it was quite challenging as I did not have a translator and communicating in Portuguese was a little hard. I was very disappointed when I found out the NGO had to close and that I had to switch projects. I felt that AIESEC UEM should have kept in touch with the NGO and planned better before advertising the opportunity and having us travel there. It felt like AIESEC Mozambique has more concerns on bringing in many people than providing quality internships.

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My new project was Impact weeks; with other interns, we had to raise funds and organize a fair for the kids that another group of interns taught English at the end of our experience. The first day was great as we went door to door telling the parents to allow their kids to come to the school so we teach them English and they where helping us speak Portuguese as they saw we did not know.

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The internship has taught me to be patient and deal with different kind of people as we had some that did not know how to work in a team and did not know how to value other people’s opinions. It has taught me that communication is very important and that you don’t have to know the language one is speaking to communicate or hear what they say, it takes effort and patience too. I also met some really great people that I now consider as friends.

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 The internship also taught me to appreciate home more. It taught me how to value what I have more. My chapa (minibus, most common transport medium in Maputo) moments  has taught me to value our taxis at home because a chapa can never be too full.

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These internships will show you how strong you really are and will help you discover things about yourself that you never knew of or things that you did not know you are able to do. You will also learn how other people do things as well as their culture. I attended a traditional wedding and it was very fun and entertaining. I had the time of my life helping organize a Christmas party for the kids at VGV NGO. It was such a success; the kids, I and my colleagues had a great time.

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Volunteering in Pretoria by Linekela Nantuua

As if being the last person to get my luggage at Bosman (bus station) was not enough, just when I got my luggage, a guy in blue trashed overalls says, “Is your boyfriend the one with the red car”? At first I did not answer him, thinking that he is going to back off, and then he did it again. “No his not my boyfriend”, I replied in a terrified voice. That freaked me out as I already heard horrible things that happened to people in SA. Apparently it has a lot of robbers that will rob you during daylight and if it’s in the evening it’s even worse, which it was. I guess is the way of saying “welcome to South Africa” makwerekwere (foreigner).

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Applause to AIESEC University of Pretoria, the person arranged to pick me up, was indeed at Bosman and he could spot me from a distance, I guess I did really look like a makwerekwere after all. My arrival at the shelter, Tshwane Home of Hope (THOH) was amazing, everything turned out as I expected. Was fortunate that there was already a colleague of mine who arrived three days before me, and that made my arrival smooth. I met the girls, and was introduced to the house mother, who has been inspiring me from the beginning till the end of my internship. And she have been probably also exhausted from my endless curious questions, such as how she came to be the house mother, how this shelter was established and if I were to open up my own shelter where would I start.

My initial expectations were to get a detailed orientation from AIESEC UP to avoid any misconception. But this was done in my second week of my internship; this was due to the fact that AIESEC UP had a seminar. To be given a recap of what we should or shouldn’t talked to the girls about, only after few days I read at the office entrance poster that volunteers should not ask the girls personal questions. Luckily enough I didn’t ask them personal question by then.

I decided to go on this exchange mostly to find myself, to get to know me and know what my purpose of life is. As an educated youth, what is expected of me in the society? What extra role do I play to establish and sustain a peaceful environment that is conducive for the people in my community? I needed to enhance my personal growth, exposure to new opportunities, meet new people and make “international” friends. When I say international friends I meant actual friends, not strange “Facebook friends” that are a threat to your safety and that promise to come visit in your country and never do. I needed to be close to people from different backgrounds, countries and most importantly different culture. This would not only be of benefit in a long-run in terms of my career, but it’d expose me to different cultures to be able to understand individual differences. As a future financial manager, I strongly believe I will be dealing with people from different cultures and it will be therefore of my advantage, to be a flexible manager and treat my fellow colleagues based on their distinctive individual cultural differences.

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I worked on career development in the Tshwane Home of Hope in Pretoria; we had a one on one with the girls to enhance their understanding on what they want to be or which career there are planning to pursue. With the help of the other interns I managed to invent a yearly fundraising event, this event is not only a legacy that I hope will go on for years; it’s a platform for the girls to be free and boost their confidence, and become confident  public speakers. The aim of the event is to help the girls raise funds every end of the year and serve as a fixed source of finance for their stationery. I worked on discussion topics during group therapies, where I learned as much as I was educating the THOH girls.

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I joined other volunteers who I found working with the girls on skill development, and teaching the girls how to make money and put bread on the table using their own creative hands. These skill development included knitting and embroidery. We saw the need to tackle team building, as the girls live in the shelter, and that meant they needed to understand the concept of working together as a team, sacrificing for each other, when necessary.

 My stay in South Africa was a dream comes true; I was literally living my dream. I have always wanted to visit South Africa and now that I was finally there I was overwhelmed. My stay was blessed and I managed to meet new people apart from my colleagues. The extra thing that I did was, I did a research on the NGO, I did this by asking general questions from the house mothers, social workers and the shelter manager. I needed to know if I were to open up my own shelter, where do I start. I once asked the house mother, “how does one open up a shelter such as this”? and she said, “One needs to find it in their hearts that it’s really what they want” and everything else will go smooth, because you’re determined, you will always find a way to establish an NGO such as THOH.

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My biggest challenge was living at the shelter itself. Despite not having to spend on transport, I feel that the work environment should never be close to the place where you sleep. Of course staying under the same roof with the girls gives us the privilege of getting to know them better, and being able to understand and help them, but we also needed space from them. We used to spend most of the mornings and the afternoons together with them and sometimes find ourselves attending to them after work when it was supposed to be our free time.

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The fun things we did were part of the first ever memorable commemoration Nelson Mandela walk. Visited and took pictures of amazing touristic places such as Church Street and Union Buildings.

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I was privileged to meet US ambassador to South Africa, Mr Patrick Gaspard and his wife. He said, “Black people have dreams whilst white people have goals”. These made me realize that I needed to set more goals and dream less for every one of us has a story to tell one day.

What impressed me the most was the way the shelter survives, the way Pretoria citizens try to meet the government and all the sponsors half way to take care of the girls. The little things (clothes, food, Christmas presents, school stationery etc.) they had put together to make the girls smile was amazing. I was also impressed and inspired how smart, educated, ambitious, friendly and respectful the girls were. How helpful they were to the house mothers, with the house chores.

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I have learned to be less of a procrastinating individual. Usually I would hold back my plans, but this internship made me to be a more proactive person than I am. Tolerance is another skill I acquired during this internship. The fact that we all had to work together to carry out a particular activity on that specific date, that meant that I had to tolerate what my fellow interns had on plate that day. I therefore grew to appreciate and tolerate more what other people have in plan. I have conquered my fear of failing, by taking a chance and doing something that was never done before at THOH. I came up the first ever Miss THOH, this made me realize that fearing to fail is never an option because if you don’t try you will never know if it will be a success or not and it’s better to fail knowing that you tried than failing to try. Fortunately I had a great team (other interns) and support from the shelter manager.

I have always believed in social responsibility. I have always believed one should not suffer alone, while others are watching, and this is what made me want to establish my own shelter. I already have a name for it, that’s progress right? Well I am very optimistic about this and will not stop until I launch “Linekela Home of Hope”. With the support of friends and family and not forgetting my enthusiastic and positive attitude, am seeing it happening after two years.

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I am still in contact with my colleagues and I believe we will forever be in contact.  During our internship, we talked of our life goals and how we plan to execute them. Few of our goals related, in a sense that we all are striving to be responsible leaders in our respective communities. We worked as a team, supporting each other’s interactive activities that any of us came up with. There were few times we disagreed but we always put our differences aside and made the girls our first priority. Iwouldn’t trade this team for another, my internship was smooth because of these guys and I will forever be grateful as I learned something from each one of them. During our free time we would plan something that we all agree and confident to do. We all walked as an unit and lived on a phrase “you can’t sit with us”. Made me feel that I can count on them for anything and I felt safe hanging with them.

Looking back at the experience, it made me grow in so many ways; I would not say I came back the same way I left. It resulted into my personal growth as an individual amongst others. It has improved my understanding of diverse cultures and has resulted into better abilities to work with people from different cultures which made me a better team player. I believe the news skills I have acquired have made me a better person; or rather say a better leader.

With no doubt, I recommend anyone out there to go do an internship abroad, like the one I did. It is a life changing opportunity and it makes you a better person.

A volunteering Internship abroad results into discovering the leader that you are, you get to understand the world better, relate to what you’re exposed to and learn how to deal with challenges.

Go out there, find yourself, find a leader in you. Live it so that someday you will be able to tell your story, I just did.